A stagnant industry

The Ministry of Culture’s recent effort to force cinema-goers to watch Pakistani films was bound to fail. Directives were issued to cinemas to put up Pakistani films only for the weeks preceding and following Eidul Fitr, despite the objection of cinema managements.

However, the ministry conceded recently to a Senate standing committee on culture that the four Punjabi films screened in major cities had seen an “embarrassing attendance”. Obviously, audiences will watch films of their choice and the Pakistani film industry has been in the doldrums for decades. While there have been a few notable exceptions, on the whole the quality in terms of production, scripting, editing, acting and music, etc has remained poor. The rest of the world has moved ahead. We have remained stagnant, both technically and in the quality of storytelling.

The solution does not lie in reducing viewers’ choices by screening only Pakistani films or banning Indian and other films as some committee members suggested. Indeed, Indian film imports were banned for years, resulting in a boost to the pirated video and DVD market. In order to improve, Pakistan’s film industry requires investment, incentives, training opportunities and, crucially, political will. Promises must translate into action. The culture ministry also reminded the committee that it continued to await the Rs50m that the industry was promised by the prime minister some months ago. Similarly, Baitul Maal funds are yet to be diverted to technicians and musicians, who are integral but ignored parts of the industry. The Punjab government has taken a commendable step by abolishing the entertainment tax.

 

However, far more needs to be done. The film industry can still be revived through measures such as providing funds, setting up training institutions, offering tax incentives and easing visa restrictions to promote co-productions with India and other countries.

 

Via: Dawn News

 

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